For more than ten years now the biggest films on the planet have been based on comic book properties, most notably, superhero movies. Marvel Studios is constantly dominating the box office, most recently with Guardians of the Galaxy, and Warner Bros. is gearing up to launch a massive DC Comics universe with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. This superhero box office boom has left a burning question though: why aren’t female superhero movies getting made?
While Sony has announced that they will be developing a Spider-Man spin-off film that will center around a female protagonist and Warner Bros. have Gal Gadot cast as Wonder Woman, those films are still several years away from actually hitting theaters and the biggest of all, Marvel Studios, have yet to announce any plans to make a movie with a female protagonist.
Many are quick to point out that Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is a very popular character and is ripe for development. A script has reportedly already been penned and Johansson’s film Lucy, which was sort of a superhero film, did very well at the box office considering the budget of the film. So why hasn’t Marvel, or any of the other studios, moved ahead with a female fronted hero flick?
The fact of the matter is that anytime female heroes have been given a film in the past, the results have been nothing shy of disastrous. If you try and think of a female fronted superhero film from the past, if you remember one, odds are it’s not for an overly positive reason. Warner Bros. Catwoman is the flagship example when it comes to these box office failures.
Catwoman starred Halle Barry in the lead role who, at the time, was one of the biggest female stars in the world. The film also had a massive $100 million budget and was being eyed as a big time franchise for the studio. However, that didn’t exactly work out. It tanked in every possible way that a film could tank. Catwoman grossed just over $80 million at the global box office and did nothing once it hit DVD. What’s worse, critics were disgusted with the film. It currently holds an unbelievably low 9% approval on Rotten Tomatoes.
Another perhaps less memorable example was Fox’s Elektra. Fox decided to spin Elektra off of Ben Affleck’s Daredevil film. Unfortunately for Fox, Daredevil wound up being a flop in it’s own way of right, so it was hard to imagine any scenario where the Jennifer Garner fronted flick was going to succeed. Fortunately for Fox, the film was much more modestly budgeted and managed to make its money back, but that’s about all it did. Elktra was also met with awful reviews, it currently sits at a 10% on Rotten Tomatoes.
A lot has happened since those box office blunders graced our screens. Though the fact of the matter is, those movies didn’t fail because they were female fronted superhero movies, they failed because they were terrible movies. They are becoming a more distant memory and it still leaves many frustrated with the landscape of superhero films being made. With a few exceptions, the films are all dominated with white male protagonists. While that may currently be true, with risky properties recently paying off big for Marvel, it looks like things are inevitably going to change in the near future.
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has been very vocal about the fact that he really wants to see some female fronted films coming down the pipe at some point. What he has said though is that it all comes down to timing and he may have a point. With everything the studio has done up until now, it all was done at exactly the right time and their execution only seems to get better. There are even rumors that Ms. Marvel will be making an appearance in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron, which could easily be a set up for her own solo film.
When it comes down to it, as much as fans love these films and feel very attached to them, they are made for one primary purpose and that is to make money. To be fair, white male fronted superhero films have made lots of money for the studios, so that is why they have continued to make them. But as the demand grows it is almost a certainty that we will be seeing quite a few female superhero movies in the future.